Local food and changes in tourist eating habits in a sun-and-sea destination: A segmentation approach

José António C. Santos*, Margarida Custódio Santos, Luis Nobre Pereira, Greg Richards, Luis Caiado

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review



Little is known about how tourists’ eating habits change between everyday life and holidays. This study aims to identify market segments based on changes in food consumption and experiences of a sun-and-sea destination’s local food. The authors evaluate to what extent tourists consume local food and assess the contribution of local food experiences to the tourists’ overall experience. 


The target population was all tourists visiting the Algarve in the Summer 2018 and included both domestic and international sun-and-sea tourists. A sample of 378 valid questionnaires was collected. Data analysis included descriptive analysis, statistical tests and cluster analysis. 


Cluster analysis identified three segments: non-foodies, selective foodies and local gastronomy foodies. Results indicate that tourists change their eating habits during holidays, eating significantly more seafood and fish and less legumes, meat, fast food and cereals and their derivatives. International and domestic sun-and-sea tourists reported that eating local food contributes significantly to their overall tourism experience. 

Practical implications: 

Sun-and-sea destinations should promote the offer of local dishes, especially those that include locally produced fish and seafood, to improve the tourist experience, differentiate the destination and increase sustainability. 


The authors address three identified research gaps: a posteriori segmentation based on tourists’ food consumption behaviour; measurement of changes in eating practices between home and in a sun-and-sea destination; and assessment of the role of food experiences to overall tourism experience of tourists visiting a sun-and-sea destination.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Behavioural segmentation
  • Change in eating habits
  • Local food consumption
  • Sun-and-sea destinations

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